AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS Eguavoen Vows Eagles Will Not Lower Guards against Guinea Bissau


Olawale Ajimotokan

Ahead of tomorrow night’s final Africa Cup of Nations Group D clash between leaders Nigeria and Guinea Bissau, Interim Head Coach, Augustine Eguavoen, has insisted that already-qualified Super Eagles have no reason to look down on their opponents or approach the game in a carefree manner.

Nigeria will play Wild Dogs of Guinea Bissau at 8pm on Wednesday night at the

Stade Roumdé Adjia in Garoua, Cameroon.

“It is important for us to sustain the winning mentality while we keep our heads on our shoulders. Just as I told the boys after the match against Egypt, we are yet to win anything here except points. Guinea Bissau need the three points because they have only one so far and we must be prepared for a massive fight,” began the coach fondly called Cerezo in his playing days with the Eagles.

Eguavoen warned further: “If we let down our guard, we could be punished, and that would not be good for the team’s psychology. We will go for the three points,” he promised Nigerian football followers.

Guinea Bissau drew 0-0 with Sudan in their first match, losing a penalty awarded to them late in the game, and then fell to a Mohamed Salah goal in a match they gave their all and even felt they should have been awarded an equaliser that was cancelled late in the encounter.

“With a little more luck, they could have beaten Sudan and could have drawn with Egypt. That is the kind of opposition we face on Wednesday. Nobody will tell me they’re pushovers,” added Eguavoen.

Eguavoen, 56, is the only man to have coached Nigeria to win all three matches in the group phase of the AFCON since the country started participating at this level since 1963.

He was head coach when the Eagles defeated Ghana 1-0, Zimbabwe 2-0 and Senegal 2-1 at the Al Masry Stadium, Port Said to sweep the stakes at the 2006 finals.

In 14 previous matches across three stints, the 1994 AFCON winner and two-time FIFA World Cup defender has left the field victorious in 12 matches, losing only two – the 0-1 defeat to Cote d’Ivoire in the semi final of the 2006 finals and a 2012 AFCON qualifier in Guinea that was embroiled in circumstances of uncertainty, which the team lost by the odd goal.

As he surveyed his boys at training on Sunday morningand thereafter fielded questions from the media, the former defender smiled easily at a suggestion that his team could end up playing hosts Cameroon in the final match, as he also was involved as a player in the 1988 final against the Cameroonians in Morocco that Nigeria lost by a lone goal, and the bronze medal match of the 1992 edition that the Super Eagles won 2-1.

“That is still a long way off. We are focused on the match against Guinea Bissau. One game at a time,” Eguavoen restated of his philosophy at the tournament.